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Former Clare hurler makes his debut for Antrim

For a hurler or footballer to transfer from their native club is never an easy decision but from once Cratloe’s Sean Hawes moved to work in Belfast, it was inevitable a switch of clubs would follow.
Sean has continued to return to his native Cratloe over the past two years despite being based in Belfast but he has finally made the switch. He made his debut for the Antrim senior side last week when they defeated Carlow in the Division 2 Hurling League.
“I have played senior hurling for 12 years with Cratloe and I certainly enjoyed it. Winning the senior title in 2009 really topped it off and, while it was disappointing to lose last year’s final, it was great to get there again. It showed how much we had come on,” Sean told The Clare Champion.
“I had decided that I was going to transfer at the end of this season anyhow. When the opportunity came up to represent Antrim, it was too good to miss. I work part time with the Antrim board as a coach. I will be getting married later this year and I will be living here,” added Sean.
Hawes has joined Belfast city club, Lamh Dearg, an intermediate hurling side that also has a strong senior football team.
“Like Cratloe, they are a dual club. They were beaten in the Antrim intermediate final by St Gall’s a few years ago. They are very close to me here in Belfast and I have done come coaching with their juvenile section in recent years,” he said.
Current Antrim senior footballer Paddy Cunningham is a member of the Lamh Dearg club, as is county senior hurler Michael Herron.
As a member of the Antrim senior panel, Hawes links up with former Clare player and mentor, Ollie Baker, who is a member of the Antrim backroom team.
“They have a very good set-up under Dinny Cahill which includes Gregory O’Kane and Tipperary native David Kennedy who is based in Dublin.”
Hawes admitted to “some regret” at leaving his native Cratloe. “I have had great times with Cratloe and it has worked out well for me in the past two years, despite the fact that I would only meet the lads in the dressing room before the game every few weeks. The opportunity to play for Antrim came up and it opens doors for me up here,” he said.
Hawes’ decision could lead to facing Clare in competitive fare.
“We (Antrim) will play Laois in the Leinster championship in May with the winners going on to play Wexford in the quarter-final.
“We could end up in the qualifiers and could meet Clare but hopefully that won’t be the case, on either count,” said Hawes, who was a member of the Clare senior panel in 2007 when Tony Considine was the county team manager. “The number one jersey is there to be won in Antrim,” added Hawes.
While he will be concentrating on his games with his new club and his involvement with Antrim in the months ahead, Sean will be keeping a close eye Cratloe’s performances in Clare.
“Of course we are disappointed to be losing Sean but we understand the position. He is based in Belfast and will be for the foreseeable future. He has been a tremendous servant to our club. He has been one of the leading goalkeepers in the county over the past decade.  We wish him well,” said Cratloe GAA chairman Jack Chaplin.

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